Friday, March 28, 2008

Review--The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, by Nancy Mitford

The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are actually two short novels, centered around the same set of characters. In The Pursuit of Love, we are introduced to Linda Radlett, one of the seven children of Matthew and Sadie, Lord and Lady of Alconleigh. Told through the eyes of Fanny Logan, a cousin with “wicked” parents (her mother has been nicknamed “the Bolter,” not for nothing), the book is mostly autobiographical (how much so, I don’t know). Linda marries at least twice and has love affairs about which she is surprisingly blasé, given the time in which this novel is set (between the wars and during World War II).

Love in a Cold Climate, featuring the ill-fated marriage of Polly Hampton, is also told from the point of view of Fanny Logan. Both novels are a social commentary of marriage and the English class system. They’re both novels of a bygone era (women’s lives today certainly aren’t, for the most part, defined by marriage), but Mitford did a wonderful job satirizing the norm while at the same time picking it apart. These two novels are best read one right after the other; it’s best to read Love in a Cold Climate after The Pursuit of Love. I can’t believe I didn’t read Mitford’s novels earlier; now I know where the phrases “the Hons’ cupboard,” “frog spawn,” and “chubb flubbing” come from!
Also reviewed by: BCF Reviews, Shelf Love

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